My youngest child started full-day kindergarten in August. That means both of my kids now are in school all day, five days a week, and I have a seven-hour, kid-free chunk of time on my hands each day.
I’ve been planning for this time since I became a stay-at-home mom nine and a half years ago. I often dreaded the idea of trying to get back into the workforce after so many years. Fortunately, my degree is in English and writing and I’ve done limited freelance work the last few years, and today’s world offers many opportunities for those of us who work with words to work from home, for as few or as many hours a week as we want. I’m an introvert who enjoys being at home anyway, and my husband and I appreciate the benefits of having someone at home to handle errands, house cleaning, and (now-reduced hours) child care.
So I’ve traded my title as stay-at-home mom for my new role as a work-from-home mom.
My children and I have handled the transition well. My youngest child likes school, and I’ve got legitimate paid work to distract myself. It felt sad and strange the first few days to be alone—with the cat—in a quiet house for hours. But now I look forward each day to this time of productivity and introvert indulgence.
What I Like About Being a Work-From-Home Mom with School-Aged Kids:
- I can work and do other projects without feeling guilty.
Once my kids walk through the school doors in the mornings, I walk home and engage in focused productivity. No one needs my attention and I have no distractions. I dedicate several hours a day—but not full time—to freelance writing and editing, including a fairly significant part-time proofreading gig that serendipitously landed in my lap a few weeks before school started. When I had small children at home, I had minimal time for freelance work, and it was always a balancing act with my family. Now I can set my own hours and fully engage in my craft. It makes me feel smart, and I like contributing financially to our household.
I also clean the house, do laundry, get groceries, exercise, and buy the crayons I forgot to send with my daughter’s supplies on the first day of school. I read a book while I eat lunch and don’t feel obligated to make conversation with anyone.
- I have energy for my family when they return home.
After a day of freelance work, grocery shopping, and toilet scrubbing, I’ve been busy mentally and physically, but I haven’t been socially drained. I feel ready to chat with my kids, make dinner, and help with homework, showers, and bedtime reading.
I loved my years as a stay-at-home mom and always wanted to be with my kids, but now when I see other moms toting toddlers and preschoolers at school pickup time, part of me feels glad to be done with that exhausting stage of life and to get a little time for other ventures. As a result, I can be a more focused mom to my kids when they are home.
- I don’t have to do the mom social circuit.
During the last year, I became increasingly aware that my youngest daughter and I were outgrowing some of the traditional day-time toddler-and-preschool social venues like library story time, mall playgrounds, and local parks. Stay-at-home moms feel obligated to get the kids out of the house once in a while, but I was weary of mom cliques, and my daughter wasn’t connecting with many kids, often because so many of them were significantly younger than she was.
Now we don’t have to mess with any of that day-time drama and can focus on scheduling genuinely enjoyable get-togethers with close friends outside of school hours.
- I’m available when my family needs me.
My oldest child missed a few days of school recently because of a fever. Because I work from home, she parked on the couch with movies and snacks and I carried on as usual. No one had to call off work to stay with the sick child.
I can easily manage my children’s extracurricular schedules, dropping my oldest off at band practice before school and running both kids to gymnastics after school. Regularly occurring oddities in the school schedule are not a big deal either; whether it’s an early dismissal day or a full day off while teachers have professional development, I’m available to pick up and supervise my kids.
It Works for Our Family
Getting back into the workforce, such as it is in my line of work, has been an easier transition than I expected. I’m happy. My family is happy. We would not trade this setup. And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to pick up the kids from school.
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